The trial of suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen resumed on Monday at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Abuja, but the defendant was again absent.
The development caused heated argument in court between defence counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo and the chairman of the CCT, Danladi Umar, over whether the court should take Awomolo’s application for adjournment.
Umar, during the exchange, accused Awomolo of applying delay tactics to stall proceedings.
The situation forced the court to go for a 30 minutes break. Upon return, the case was adjourned till February 14.
Recall that Oonoghen was absent on January 14, the first sitting of the tribunal trying him for non-declaration of assets. The CCT had fixed today, February 4, to continue hearing the case after he lost his bid to stop the trial through the Court of Appeal last week.
At the resumed hearing today, defence counsel Awomolo said the same petition against the CJN sent to Code of Conduct Tribunal has now been forwarded to NJC for investigation by the AGF. He then asked for an adjournment pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to Awomolo, no harm would be done to all parties if the case is adjourned until the outcome of the NJC investigtion since the NJC would meet on Wednesday.
Prosecution Counsel Aliyu Umar agreed to Awomolo’s application but warned that if by Thursday, Onnoghen fails to show up, he would “ask for the appropriate orders against him”. The orders might include bench warrant of arrest.
But the CCT chairman said since the matter has been slated for hearing both lawyers “must” move their applications already pending before the court.
“That [petition against Onnoghen at NJC] has nothing to do with the tribunal,” the CCT chairman said.
“Why are you using delay tactics?”
At the point Awomolo was visibly angry. He said in his over 40 years at the bar, he has never done such.
The tribunal was stood down for 30 minutes after the prosecuting counsel intervened.